Starlin Castro dug hard out of the box, hustling out an infield single in Monday’s pivotal seventh inning. The play was overshadowed by Brian Anderson’s game-changing home run two batters later, but it didn’t go unnoticed by coaches and Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
Castro, much to everyone’s relief, is putting in maximum effort day in and day out in the wake of reports that surfaced over the winter in which he expressed his displeasure with the trade that brought him to Miami in the Giancarlo Stanton deal with the Yankees.
Castro, 28, didn’t want to be part of a rebuild.
Not after eight seasons in the Majors with the Cubs and Yankees.
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“It was tough in the beginning,” Castro acknowledged. “But after I got here — got to spring training — I think all those things went away. I’m here, I try to do the best I can, play every day and do my job.”
Castro has started in all 28 of the Marlins’ games and, among qualified hitters, leads the team with a .312 average that also ranks seventh in the National League.
But he’s also done so without any outward hint of antipathy.
“There were reports early on that he didn’t want to be here, and things like that,” Mattingly said. “But from FanFest on, he’s been great. He’s been excited about being here, helping our young guys, and he’s been a steadying influence.”
Said Marlins infield coach Perry Hill, who has worked with Castro on his defensive play at second base: “He’s been nothing but a pro’s pro. He cares. You would think maybe he was going to coast through some situations, but no. None. I haven’t seen any of that, not even in spring training when it was 100 degrees out on the backfields.”
It can only behoove Castro and the Marlins for him to perform.
With the $21 million owed to him through 2019, he was included in the deal merely to help offset Stanton’s massive contract, which the Yankees had to absorb.
As a result, Castro profiles as a mid-season trade candidate should the Marlins decide to shed more payroll while acquiring additional youth in the process.
Castro is putting up solid numbers and at least pretending to be a happy camper.
“That’s exactly what I told myself, to keep negative things out of my mind,” Castro said. “I’m going to do my best and I’m going to play hard every day.”
Castro just wishes he was supplying more power. After averaging 13 homers a season, he failed to homer in April.
“You don’t think I don’t think every day about that, that I don’t have a home run?” Castro asked. “But it’s good. It would be worse if I was hitting .150 with five home runs, or I didn’t feel good at the plate and wasn’t hitting the ball hard. Home runs, I know they’re going to come.”
Van Horne sidelined
Marlins radio announcer Dave Van Horne missed Tuesday's broadcast and might miss Wednesday's after experiencing an undisclosed minor medical issue that caused a bit of slurring of words during the fifth inning of Monday's broadcast.
Van Horne, 79, finished Monday's broadcast on WINZ-940 AM and was doing fine on Tuesday, according to a team source.
Van Horne decided to take off Tuesday's game and possibly Wednesday's.
He's planning to call this weekend's series in Cincinnati.
Van Horne has been the Marlins' lead radio voice since 2001. Before that, he spent 32 years broadcasting for the Montreal Expos.
Van Horne is the 2011 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Kyle Sielaff will fill in for Van Horne during his absence.
Marlins rookie reliever Tayron Guerrero threw the fastest-recorded pitch of the season in Monday’s seventh inning — a 101.8 mph fastball to the Phillies Pedro Florimon — according to Statcast.
The inside pitch, which was called for a ball, surpassed a pair of 101.7 mph pitches thrown by Cardinals rookie Jordan Hicks earlier in the season.
According to Fangraphs, Guerrero ranks fourth among all major league pitchers with an average fastball velocity of 98.8 mph. Only Hicks (99.7), the Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman (99.2) and Rays’ Jose Alvarado (99) rank ahead of him.
▪ Mattingly said first baseman Justin Bour, who has not started in four straight games, would return to the lineup on Wednesday after dealing with back spasms.